Victim Identity
Cards
*all photos and texts are from
USHMM’s website.
Wilma Schlesinger Mahrer
Wilma was the oldest of two daughters born to German-speaking Jewish
Born: Zolyom, Czechoslovakia parents. She married Gyula Mahrer, a Hungarian Jew who had fought in
the Hungarian army during World War I. The couple lived in the
December 19, 1876
Hungarian capital of Budapest, where they raised two daughters. The
Mahrers lived near their eldest daughter, Kornelia, who had married in
1928.
1933-39: Wilma's first grandchild, Maria, was born on Wilma's 55th
birthday. By 1936 Wilma had five grandchildren, three of whom lived in
Budapest with her daughter Kornelia and son-in-law, Miksa. In May 1939
the Hungarian government enacted a law that defined Jews as an alien
people and limited their rights.
1940-44: In 1940 Wilma's son-in-law, Miksa, was conscripted into the
Hungarian army's labor service. Two years later, he was forced to give up
his business to a Christian. In March 1944 Germany occupied Hungary.
That summer, Jews were moved into houses marked by an identifying
Jewish star. Many Jews were rounded up and killed. When Wilma's
husband died of illness that year, his family envied him. After Kornelia
and Miksa were deported to Germany, Wilma found Christians to take
care of her three orphaned grandchildren.
On January 18, 1945, Wilma and her grandchildren were liberated in
Budapest by Soviet troops. She remained in Budapest after the war.
Blimcia Lische
Born: Kolbuszowa, Poland
late 1938
Blimcia's parents were religious Jews. Her father, Shaya David, and her
mother, Malcia Saleschtz, had settled in Kolbuszowa, where Blimcia's mother
had been raised. There, Malcia's father bought the newlyweds a home and
started his new son-in-law in the wholesale flour business.
1933-39: Blimcia was born in 1938, and was raised among many aunts,
uncles and cousins. Around Blimcia's first birthday, Germany invaded Poland
and soon reached Kolbuszowa. Polish soldiers on horses tried to fight against
the German army, but they were no match for tanks. After a short battle,
there were many dead horses in the streets. Blimcia's town came under
German rule.
1940-42: The children in town feared Hafenbier, the vicious German police
commander who was posted in Kolbuszowa. Hafenbier terrorized and killed
many of the town's Jews. Blimcia often played a game in which her 3-yearold cousin Henoch would portray Hafenbier, asking her and their friends,
"Are you a Jew?" "Yes," they would answer. "If you are a Jew," mimicked
Henoch, "you are dead." With his rifle fashioned from wood, Henoch would
"shoot" Blimcia and the others. They would fall over, pretending they had
been killed.
Blimcia and her family were deported to the Rzeszow ghetto on June 25,
1942, and then to the Belzec extermination camp on July 7 where they were
gassed. Blimcia was 3 and a half years old.
Wolfgang Munzer
An only child, Wolfgang was born in Berlin to Jewish parents. His father was the
Born: Berlin, Germany foreign representative for a sewing notions company. The family lived in a
comfortable apartment in the southwestern district of the city. Wolfgang
February 26, 1920
attended secondary school there and hoped to become an electrical engineer.
1933-39: When the Nazis came to power, my father fled Germany because he
was a socialist and was afraid he'd be arrested. Mother was very ill, so my
grandmother took care of me until it became too difficult for her, and then she
placed me in a Jewish orphanage. By then, Jews weren't allowed in public
schools, so I switched to a Jewish middle school. In l937 I joined my father in
Paris and entered a training institute to learn to be a mechanic.
1940-44: By 1943 I was living in Nice with my father and my stepmother, who
owned a lending library. Many Jews had sought haven in Nice because under the
Italian occupation there, Jews were not persecuted. But when Italy surrendered
to the Allies in September, the Germans occupied the area. In March 1944 the
Nazis deported me, my parents, and 1,500 other Jews in sealed box cars from a
transit camp near Paris to Auschwitz. Upon arrival, I was separated from my
parents and herded into a room where my head was shaved.
Wolfgang's parents were gassed upon arrival at Auschwitz. Wolfgang was put to
work in an electrical components factory and survived the war. He emigrated to
America in 1947.
Ossi Stojka
Born: Austria
1936
Ossi was the youngest of six children born to Roman Catholic Gypsies who
traveled in a family wagon. Their caravan spent winters in Vienna, Austria's
capital, and summers in the Austrian countryside. The Stojkas belonged to a tribe
of Gypsies called the Lowara Roma, who made their living as itinerant horse
traders. Ossi's ancestors had lived in Austria for more than 200 years.
1933-39: Ossi was 2 years old when Germany annexed Austria in March 1938.
The Stojka family wagon was parked for the winter in a Vienna campground
when the Germans marched in. They ordered the Gypsies to stay put. The
Stojkas had to convert their wagon into a wooden house and had to adjust to
staying in one place.
1940-44: Gypsies were forced to register as members of a different "race." When
Ossi was 5, the Germans took away his father. Next, they took his sister, Kathi.
Finally, Ossi and the rest of his family were deported to a Nazi camp in Birkenau
for Gypsies. There was very little to eat, mostly turnips. Little Ossi fell ill with
typhus, and was taken to the barracks for sick prisoners. The infirmary was often
referred to by prisoners as the "antechamber of the crematoria."
Ossi was given no medical treatment in the infirmary, and died of typhus and
malnutrition. He was 7 years old.
Joseph Muscha Mueller
Joseph was born in Bitterfeld, Germany, to Gypsy parents. For reasons
Born: Bitterfeld, Germany unknown, he was raised in an orphanage for the first one-and-a-half years of
1932
his life. At the time of Joseph's birth, some 26,000 Gypsies--members of
either the Sinti or Roma tribes--lived in Germany. Though most were German
citizens, they were often discriminated against by other Germans and
subjected to harassment.
1933-39: At age one-and-a-half, Joseph was taken into foster care by a family
living in Halle, a city some 20 miles from Bitterfeld. That same year, the Nazi
party came to power. When Joseph was in school, he was often made the
scapegoat for pranks in the classroom and beaten for "misbehaving." He was
also taunted with insults like "bastard" and "mulatto" by classmates who
were members of the Hitler Youth movement.
1940-44: When Joseph was 12 he was taken from his classroom by two
strangers who said he had "appendicitis" and needed immediate surgery. He
protested, but was beaten and forcefully taken into surgery where he was
sterilized, a procedure legalized by a Nazi law allowing the forced sterilization
of "asocials," a category that included Gypsies. After his recovery, Joseph was
to be deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but his foster
father managed to have him smuggled from the hospital and hidden.
Joseph survived the remainder of the war by hiding for five months in a
garden shed.
Ceija Stojka
Born: Kraubath bei Knittelfeld,
Austria
1933
Ceija was the fifth of six children born to Roman Catholic Gypsy
parents. The Stojka's family wagon traveled with a caravan that spent
winters in the Austrian capital of Vienna and summers in the Austrian
countryside. The Stojkas belonged to a tribe of Gypsies called the
Lowara Roma, who made their living as itinerant horse traders.
1933-39: I grew up used to freedom, travel and hard work. Once, my
father made me a skirt out of some material from a broken sunshade. I
was 5 years old and our wagon was parked for the winter in a Vienna
campground, when Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. The
Germans ordered us to stay put. My parents had to convert our wagon
into a wooden house, and we had to learn how to cook with an oven
instead of on an open fire.
1940-44: Gypsies were forced to register as members of another
"race." Our campground was fenced off and placed under police
guard. I was 8 when the Germans took my father away; a few months
later, my mother received his ashes in a box. Next, the Germans took
my sister, Kathi. Finally, they deported all of us to a Nazi camp for
Gypsies in Birkenau. We lived in the shadows of a smoking
crematorium, and we called the path in front of our barracks the
"highway to hell" because it led to the gas chambers.
Ceija was subsequently freed in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945. After
the war, she documented and published Lowara Gypsy songs about
the Holocaust.
Harry Pauly
Born: Germany
1914
As a young boy growing up in Berlin, Harry developed a love for the theater. At
15 he began acting in minor roles at a theater at the Nollendorfplatz. He was
also apprenticed to a hairdresser but disliked the work. He spent most of his
time with other actors, both at the theater and in nightclubs where homosexuals
gathered.
1933-39: When the Nazis came to power, they closed the gay bars. Some
homosexuals, especially those who were Jewish, were killed by Nazi hooligans;
my friend "Susi," a drag queen, was stabbed to death. In 1936 I was arrested
under the Nazi-revised paragraph 175 of the criminal code, which outlawed
homosexuality. I was imprisoned in a camp at Neusustrum, where I worked in
the marshes 12 hours a day. After 15 months I was released.
1940-44: In 1943 I was turned in by two boys pressured by the Gestapo to
denounce homosexuals. Again I was sentenced under paragraph 175. Again I was
released, this time after only eight months because friends in the theater
intervened on my behalf. I was then drafted into the army but wherever I went,
people knew of my 175 conviction and called me a "dirty faggot." I couldn't
stand it and deserted twice. Finally, as punishment, I was sent to a special
combat unit in which almost everyone was killed. Somehow I managed to
survive.
After the war, Harry started his own small theater.
Robert Oelbermann
Born: Bonn, Germany
April 24, 1896
In 1919 Robert and his brother Karl founded the Nerother Bund youth group in
the Cologne region. Like other German youth groups, it aimed to bring youth
closer to nature through camping and hiking. Homosexual relationships
sometimes developed from the intense adolescent male camaraderie, and the
Nerother Bund accepted these friendships, as did a number of German youth
groups at the time.
1933-39: Soon after the Nazis took power in 1933, they dissolved all
independent youth groups and urged the members to join the Hitler Youth
movement. Robert refused and secretly continued his connection with the
Nerother Bund. In 1936 he was convicted under the Nazi-revised criminal code's
paragraph 175 which outlawed homosexuality. Robert was imprisoned with 13
other members of the Nerother Bund.
1940-41: Robert was one of more than 50,000 men sentenced under paragraph
175 during the Nazi regime. By 1941 he had been transferred to the Dachau
concentration camp. Like many "175ers" in the camps, Robert was required to
wear an identifying pink triangle. The "175ers" were commonly segregated in
separate barracks, subjected to particularly harsh treatment, and often
ostracized by other prisoner groups.
Forty-four-year-old Robert died at Dachau in 1941. Details of his death are
unknown.
Willem Arondeus
Born: Naarden, Netherlands
August 22, 1894
One of six children, Willem grew up in Amsterdam where his parents
were theater costume designers. When Willem was 17, he fought with
his parents about his homosexuality. He left home and severed contact
with his family. He began writing and painting, and in the 1920s was
commissioned to do a mural for the Rotterdam town hall. In 1932 he
moved to the countryside near Apeldoorn.
1933-39: When he was 38, Willem met Jan Tijssen, the son of a
greengrocer, and they lived together for the next seven years. Although
he was a struggling painter, Willem refused to go on welfare. In 1938
Willem began writing a biography of Dutch painter Matthijs Maris, and
after the book was published, Willem's financial situation improved.
1940-44: The Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. Soon after
the occupation, Willem joined the resistance. His unit's main task was to
falsify identity papers for Dutch Jews. On March 27, 1943, Willem's unit
attacked the Amsterdam registry building and set it on fire in an attempt
to destroy records against which false identity papers could be checked.
Thousands of files were destroyed. Five days later the unit was betrayed
and arrested. That July, Willem and 11 others were executed.
Before his execution, Willem asked a friend to testify after the war that
"homosexuals are not cowards." Only in the 1980s did the Dutch
government posthumously award Willem a medal.
Johann Stossier
Johann was born to Catholic parents in the part of Austria known as
Born: Techelsberg, Austria Carinthia, where he was raised on the family farm. Johann enjoyed acting
May 29, 1909
and belonged to a theater group in nearby Sankt Martin, which also
happened to have a Jehovah's Witness congregation. He became a Jehovah's
Witness during the late 1920s, actively preaching in the district around Sankt
Martin.
1933-39: Johann continued to do missionary work for the Jehovah's
Witnesses even after this was banned by the Austrian government in 1936.
The situation for Jehovah's Witnesses worsened after Germany annexed
Austria in March 1938. Like other Witnesses, Johann refused to give the
Hitler salute, to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler, or to enlist in the army.
1940-44: In April 1940 Johann was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned
in Klagenfurt. The Nazis deported him to the Neuengamme concentration
camp, and then to the Sachsenhausen camp. In Sachsenhausen, the Germans
tried to force Johann to repudiate his faith as a Jehovah's Witness, but
Johann refused. Though it was forbidden, he had secretly hidden a tiny Bible,
and reading Scripture enabled him to fortify his belief that the power of God
was stronger than the power of the Nazi regime.
Johann was executed on May 7, 1944, in Sachsenhausen. He was 34 years
old.
Berthold Mewes
Berthold was an only child. He was raised in Paderborn, a town in a largely
Born: Paderborn, Germany Catholic region of western Germany. Paderborn was near Bad Lippspringe,
where there was a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation engaged in missionary
August 19, 1930
work. Beginning in 1933, the Nazis moved to outlaw Jehovah's Witness
activities.
1933-39: When I was 4, my parents became Jehovah's Witnesses and I began
to attend secret Bible meetings with them. I began public school in 1936.
Mama was arrested in 1939 and sent to the Ravensbrueck concentration
camp. When I was 9, Papa sent me to live with my uncle in Berlin; however,
three months later Papa was forced to deliver me to the authorities.
Afterwards, Papa was imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military.
1940-44: The Germans sent me to live with a childless couple who had a
small farm. In the morning I'd attend school and afterwards I'd do farm work.
I could write one letter every six months to either Mama or Papa. But in 1943
I was forbidden to write any more letters to my parents. I could only hope
and pray that they were still alive. Although I had no contact with other
Jehovah's Witnesses, my faith in Jehovah and the teachings of the Bible
helped me overcome my loneliness and uncertainty.
Berthold was reunited with his parents in 1945 when he was 15, and
together the family resumed their lives as Jehovah's Witnesses. Berthold
later moved to the United States.
Helene lived in Herne and Bochum in western Germany, where she was
married to a coal miner who was unemployed between 1927 and 1938.
Helene Gotthold
Following their disillusionment with the Lutheran Church during World War I,
Born: Dortmund, Germany Helene, who was a nurse, and her husband became Jehovah's Witnesses in
December 31, 1896
1926. Together, they raised their two children according to the teachings of
the Scripture.
1933-39: Under the Nazis, Jehovah's Witnesses were persecuted for their
missionary work and because they believed their sole allegiance was to God
and His Commandments. Some of the Gotthold's neighbors refused to have
anything to do with them. Helene's husband was arrested in 1936. After
searching her house, the Gestapo arrested her in 1937; she was beaten with
rods and lost her unborn baby. The court gave her an 18-month sentence.
1940-44: Helene and her husband were released and the Gotthold family
was reunited. Helene and her husband were rearrested in February 1944.
They were imprisoned in Essen, but when the prison was destroyed in an
Allied bombing raid, they were transferred to a prison in Potsdam. On August
4, the People's Court sentenced Helene and five other Witnesses to death for
illegally holding Bible meetings and undermining the nation's morale. Before
her execution, Helene was allowed to write a letter to her husband and
children.
Helene was executed by guillotine in Berlin's Ploetzensee Prison on
December 8, 1944. Her family survived and resumed their Jehovah's Witness
missionary work in Germany.
Zofia Yamaika
Born: Warsaw, Poland
1925
Zofia was raised in a well-to-do, prominent Hasidic Jewish family in Warsaw.
Uneasy with the constant tension between the Polish people and the Jewish
minority, Zofia joined the communist student club Spartacus when she was a
teenager. Spartacus actively campaigned against the growing fascist movement
in Europe.
1933-39: When Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on September 28, 1939,
Zofia was 14 years old. She stopped going to school. Though the Nazis banned
Spartacus, she secretly helped to revive the club, which printed antifascist
posters and leaflets and distributed them throughout Warsaw. The work was
dangerous--German troops were all over the city.
1940-43: A year later, Zofia and her parents were among nearly half a million
Jews "resettled" in a small section of Warsaw. The ghetto was sealed in
November 1940. Through Spartacus, Zofia trained with a pistol smuggled in by
communist partisans. Zofia wanted to join them, but escaping meant
endangering her parents' lives. When they were deported in July 1942, Zofia
escaped and joined the Lion partisans near Radom. Some 300 Nazis attacked her
group of 50 on February 9, 1943. Zofia and two Poles offered to cover their unit's
retreat.
Zofia, 18, armed with a machine gun, let the Germans come within eight feet
before she fired. Her position was overtaken, and she was killed. Her unit
managed to retreat.
Kazimiera Banach Justynowa
Born: Mierzen, Poland
July 12, 1893
Kazimiera was born to Roman Catholic parents in the town of Mierzen.
After graduating from a teacher's college in Staniatki, she married
Wincenty Justyna, a secondary school teacher. The couple settled in the
small industrial city of Piotrkow Trybunalski and raised three children,
Jerzy (a boy), Danuta and Maria. Kazimiera worked as a school teacher.
1933-39: With their combined incomes the Justynas were able to buy a
plot of land and build a house. The Germans invaded Poland on
September 1, 1939, and four days later, German troops streamed into
Piotrkow. One month into the occupation, the Germans divided the city
into a section for the non-Jewish Poles and a ghetto for the Jews. Only a
few weeks after the occupation, Kazimiera joined the resistance
movement.
1940-44: Kazimiera's house became a contact point and shelter for
resistance fighters in the Polish Home Army [Armia Krajowa]. When the
Germans liquidated the Jewish ghetto in 1942, Kazimiera hid the
Szwarcs--a fellow teacher who was Jewish and her two daughters,
friends of Maria and Danuta. Kazimiera used her contacts in the
resistance to get the Scwarcs false IDs. In 1944 Kazimiera was arrested
by the Gestapo, tortured, and deported to Germany, first to the
Ravensbrueck concentration camp later on to the Bergen-Belsen camp.
In April 1945 Kazimiera was liberated at Bergen-Belsen. After the war,
she went to Sweden to recover from typhus, and then returned to
Piotrkow Trybunalski.
Born to Catholic parents, Wladyslaw attended schools in Warsaw and
Wladyslaw Tadeusz Surmacki earned a degree in survey engineering in Moscow in 1914. After fighting
Born: Proszowice, Poland
in World War I, he commanded a horse artillery division in Warsaw,
October 20, 1888
worked for Poland's Military Geographic Institute, and taught topography
courses. He started a family in 1925, and after he retired from the army in
1929 he founded a surveying company.
1933-39: When war with Germany became imminent in the summer of
1939, Wladyslaw volunteered to fight but was rejected as too old. In early
September, when Germany overwhelmed Poland's western defenses, he
fled, hoping to fight in the defense of eastern Poland. In mid-September, a
day before the Soviets invaded Poland, he was given a chance to leave the
country and go to Great Britain but chose to stay and fight with the Polish
resistance.
1940-42: Wladyslaw became chief of staff of TAP, one of the groups of the
Polish underground. In the summer of 1940 he was arrested and sent to
Auschwitz. As prisoner #2759 he worked as a surveying engineer in the
camp's construction office. His work enabled him to go outside the camp.
He used his status to smuggle letters and, by October, to help organize a
military underground. In November 1941 he was released on the
intercession of a former German engineering colleague, but was
immediately rearrested and put in Warsaw's Pawiak Prison.
Wladyslaw was taken to a forest near Magdalenka and machine-gunned
along with 223 Poles on May 28, 1942. They were buried in mass graves
and later moved to the local cemetery.
Helene Melanie Lebel
Born: Vienna, Austria
September 15, 1911
The elder of two daughters born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother,
Helene was raised as a Catholic in Vienna. Her father died in action during World
War I when Helene was just 5 years old, and her mother remarried when Helene
was 15. Known affectionately as Helly, Helene loved to swim and go to the
opera. After finishing her secondary education she entered law school.
1933-39: At 19 Helene first showed signs of mental illness. Her condition
worsened during 1934, and by 1935 she had to give up her law studies and her
job as a legal secretary. After losing her trusted fox terrier, Lydi, she suffered a
major breakdown. She was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and was placed in
Vienna's Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital. Two years later, in March 1938, the
Germans annexed Austria to Germany.
1940: Helene was confined in Steinhof and was not allowed home even though
her condition had improved. Her parents were led to believe that she would
soon be released. Instead, Helene's mother was informed in August that Helene
had been transferred to a hospital in Niedernhart, just across the border in
Bavaria. In fact, Helene was transferred to a converted prison in Brandenburg,
Germany, where she was undressed, subjected to a physical examination, and
then led into a shower room.
Helene was one of 9,772 persons gassed that year in the Brandenburg
"Euthanasia" center. She was officially listed as dying in her room of "acute
schizophrenic excitement."
Smiljka was one of three daughters born to Serbian Orthodox parents in the
Smiljka Ljoljic Visnjevac town of Mostar in the central Yugoslav region of Herzegovina. Smiljka's mother
Born: Mostar, Yugoslavia died when Smiljka was 3, and the three girls were raised by their father. A
1905
tomboy in her youth, at 17 Smiljka won the Miss Makarska Riviera beauty
pageant and left for Germany to become a fashion model.
1933-39: Smiljka had a successful modeling career in Berlin. With her tall, slim
figure, high cheekbones, and almond-shaped, grey-blue eyes, she was noted for
her resemblance to Greta Garbo. Smiljka was anti-fascist and left Germany after
Hitler came to power. When war broke out in Europe in September 1939,
Smiljka was living in the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade with her husband, Tihomir
Visnjevac, and their young son.
1940-41: Like many in Belgrade, Smiljka was openly anti-fascist. On March 27,
1941, a new anti-fascist government took power in Yugoslavia. In reaction,
Germany launched a surprise bombing attack on Belgrade on Palm Sunday, April
6, 1941. Six days later, German troops occupied the city. Together with her
husband, Smiljka, who was known to the Germans for her anti-fascist views
during her days in Weimar Germany, was rounded up by the Gestapo. For more
than two weeks, Smiljka and her husband were beaten and tortured.
Smiljka was shot by a German firing squad in the Banjica concentration camp in
early May 1941. She was 35 years old.
Friedrich-Paul von Groszheim
Friedrich-Paul was born in the old trading city of Luebeck in northern
Born: Luebeck, Germany
Germany. He was 11 when his father was killed in World War I. After his
April 27, 1906
mother died, he and his sister Ina were raised by two elderly aunts. After
graduating from school, Friedrich-Paul trained to be a merchant.
1933-39: In January 1937 the SS arrested 230 men in Luebeck under the
Nazi-revised criminal code's paragraph 175, which outlawed
homosexuality, and I was imprisoned for 10 months. The Nazis had been
using paragraph 175 as grounds for making mass arrests of homosexuals.
In 1938 I was re-arrested, humiliated, and tortured. The Nazis finally
released me, but only on the condition that I agree to be castrated. I
submitted to the operation.
1940-44: Because of the nature of my operation, I was rejected as
"physically unfit" when I came up for military service in 1940. In 1943 I
was arrested again, this time for being a monarchist, a supporter of the
former Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Nazis imprisoned me as a political prisoner
in an annex of the Neuengamme concentration camp at Luebeck.
After the war, Friedrich-Paul settled in Hamburg.
Isadore Frenkiel
Born: Gabin, Poland
ca. 1898
Isadore and his wife, Sossia, had seven sons. The Frenkiels, a religious Jewish
family, lived in a one-room apartment in a town near Warsaw called Gabin. Like
most Jewish families in Gabin, they lived in the town's center, near the
synagogue. Isadore was a self-employed cap maker, selling his caps at the town's
weekly market. He also fashioned caps for the police and military.
1933-39: Isadore felt the pinch of the Depression, but although business was
poor, he was able to provide for his family. Shortly after the Germans invaded
Poland on September 1, 1939, they occupied Gabin. Ten people were shot in the
street; others, such as doctors and teachers, were taken away. The Germans
rounded up the Jewish men and held them in the marketplace while soldiers
doused the synagogue with gasoline and set it on fire.
1940-42: In 1941 the Frenkiels heard rumors that the Germans were evacuating
some towns and deporting the Jews to a death camp. A cousin visited the family
after escaping from a transport and said the rumors were true. "They put you in
trucks, gas you, then throw your body into a burning pit," he said. Isadore's 3year-old son ran to his mother crying, "Will they burn me, too?" Isadore urged
his cousin to tell the Jewish elders. He met with them, but they did not believe
his story and told him to leave town.
In May 1942 Gabin's Jews were deported to the Chelmno death camp. Isadore,
Sossia and four of their sons were placed in a sealed van and asphyxiated with
exhaust fumes.
Nadine was the daughter of immigrant Jewish parents. Her
Nadine Schatz
Russian-born mother settled in France following the Russian
Born: Boulogne-Billancourt, France Revolution of 1917. Nadine was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, a
September 10, 1930
city on the outskirts of Paris known for its automobile factories.
She was fluent in Russian and French.
1933-39: Nadine attended elementary school in Paris. Her mother,
Ludmilla, taught piano, and her Russian grandmother, Rosalia, lived
with them. After France declared war on Germany in September
1939, Nadine's mother moved the family to Saint-Marc-sur-Mer, a
small village on the Brittany coast, hoping it would be safer. There,
Nadine resumed her schooling.
1940-42: Victorious German troops reached Saint-Marc-sur-Mer in
June 1940. After France surrendered to Germany, the Germans
remained in Brittany. Nadine and her mother moved to the nearby
city of Nantes. But local French officials frequently cooperated
with the occupying Germans to help enforce anti-Jewish laws. In
1942 Nadine and her mother were arrested by French police.
Nadine was separated from her mother and deported to the
Drancy transit camp east of Paris.
Twelve-year-old Nadine was deported to Auschwitz on September
23, 1942. She was gassed shortly after arriving.
Shulim was the oldest of three children born to religious Jewish parents living
Shulim Saleschutz
in Kolbuszowa, a town in south central Poland. His father owned a wholesale
Born: Kolbuszowa, Poland general store in town, and was known in the region for his impressive
March 7, 1930
strength. Shulim's mother tended to the house and cared for him, his brother,
Shlomo, and his sister, Rozia.
1933-39: When Shulim was 9, the Germans invaded Poland. Polish soldiers on
horses tried to fight against the German army, but they were no match against
the tanks. After the short battle, there were many dead horses in the streets.
Shulim's father and his uncle Naftali were forced to help bury the horses. The
Germans ordered that Jewish children could not go to school anymore.
Shulim stayed at home with his mother, brother and sister.
1940-42: In July 1941 the Germans forced all the Jews of Kolbuszowa to live in
one small section of town. Two of Shulim's grandparents, an uncle and two
aunts moved in with his family, making their apartment very crowded.
Shulim's twelfth birthday was a milestone--he now had to wear an armband
with a Star of David like the other men. He felt proud, and asked his uncle
Naftali to take a picture of him wearing the armband. Shulim was assigned to
work details with the other men. He cleared snow and repaired the roads.
Shulim was deported to the Rzeszow ghetto on June 25, 1942, and then to the
Belzec camp in July. There, Shulim was gassed with his mother, brother and
sister. He was 12 years old.
Bruna Sevini
Born: Trieste, Italy
September 22, 1923
Bruna was the oldest of two children born to Italian-speaking Jewish parents
who had settled in the cosmopolitan city of Trieste. Her father, born in Vienna,
served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. He became a
naturalized Italian during the 1920s after marrying Bruna's mother. Growing up
in fascist Italy, Bruna attended public schools in Trieste and felt proud to be an
Italian.
1933-39: In September 1938 I was surprised to see anti-Jewish graffiti. Then antiJewish race laws were announced. I was expelled from my public secondary
school and my father was fired from his job. Circumstances forced me into a
new, private Jewish school organized by fired Jewish professors, with small
classes and excellent teachers. Ironically, my exams and diploma were fully
accredited by the Italian state.
1940-44: We were glad when Mussolini fell from power in July 1943, but his fall
led to the German occupation of Italy. We fled south but were caught in a
roundup. Awaiting deportation to Germany, I attended a Christmas Mass in our
prison. The Bishop of Rimini told me not to despair and to believe in miracles.
Three days later the prison was hit during an air raid. We escaped to a convent
south of Rimini and discovered that the bishop had instructed the convent to
give shelter to refugees with no questions or payment asked.
Bruna was liberated at the convent by British troops on September 23, 1944, the
day after her twenty-first birthday.
Wilhelm Edelstein
Born: Vienna, Austria
July 1, 1914
Wilhelm was the oldest of two children in a Jewish family living in the Habsburg
capital of Vienna. Shortly after Wilhelm was born, World War I broke out.
Because of food shortages, Wilhelm and his mother left for her hometown of
Hostoun, near Prague. After the war they returned to Vienna where his father
had remained to run his shoe business. As a young man, Wilhelm worked for his
father.
1933-39: In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria. Soon after, the Germans
arrested Wilhelm because he was a Jew dating a Christian woman, an act
forbidden under Nazi law. Released on the condition that he leave Austria within
30 days, Wilhelm, with a Jewish friend, traveled to the Czechoslovakian border.
After several aborted attempts he crossed the frontier illegally. Wilhelm went on
to Prague where he stayed with relatives.
1940-44: In 1941 Wilhelm was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and then
to Riga, Latvia, where he was put in charge of a group of prisoners peeling
potatoes in the ghetto's "German section" for Jews from the Reich. He was then
deported to several other camps and eventually to Troeglitz, a subcamp of
Buchenwald. There, he made contact with a Christian villager from outside the
camp. The man often traveled to Vienna and managed to bring back bread from
Wilhelm's aunt and smuggle it in to Wilhelm.
In March 1945 Wilhelm was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
He died only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British army on
April 15, 1945.
Moise Gani
Born: Preveza, Greece
April 1913
Moise's family were Romaniot Jews, a group that had lived in Greek cities and
the Balkans for 1,100 years. In the early 1920s Moise's family moved to Italy,
where his father tried to find work. Moise attended school, and when his family
returned to Greece after two years, he remained in Italy to complete school.
When Moise returned to Preveza at age 17, he had forgotten Greek.
1933-39: Moise worked as a bookkeeper and administrator at the local electric
company in Preveza, and he lived with his parents. Moise liked to picnic with his
friends at the shore of the Ionian Sea. Sometimes he invited his younger
brothers and sisters to come along.
1940-44: The Germans invaded Greece in 1941, and took over the region where
Preveza was located in the fall of 1943. In March 1944 the Jews of Preveza were
deported to Auschwitz. There Moise was assigned to Birkenau as part of the
Sonderkommando, a work unit that took corpses to the crematoria. On October
7, 1944, the Sonderkommando in crematorium IV revolted, killing an overseer,
disarming SS guards and blowing up the crematorium. Soon, others in the
Sonderkommando, including Moise, joined in the uprising.
Moise was killed in Birkenau in October 1944. He was 31 years old.
Mirjana was the second of three children born to well-to-do Serbian
Mirjana Babunovic Dimitrijevic parents in the capital of Bosnia, in central Yugoslavia. Her father was a
successful businessman and prominent Serbian nationalist. Like her
Born: Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
parents, Mirjana was baptized in the Serbian Orthodox faith. Mirjana
July 1921
attended elementary school in the multi-ethnic city of Sarajevo.
1933-39: While in secondary school, Mirjana studied foreign languages
and toured western Europe. In 1938 she graduated. That fall she
enrolled as a student of English and English literature at the University
of Belgrade. While at the university she became engaged to Radoje
Dimitrijevic from Macedonia, a fellow student who was studying to be a
civil engineer.
1940-44: Mirjana married her fiance in 1940. The Germans bombed
Belgrade on Palm Sunday, April 6, 1941. When the Germans invaded,
Mirjana and Radoje left for Macedonia. Two years later, Mirjana
returned to live with her mother in Sarajevo, which was controlled by a
pro-German Croatian fascist regime. In early 1944 Croatian police
arrested Mirjana, her mother and her aunt because they were Serbs.
After refusing to convert to Roman Catholicism, Mirjana was deported
to Jasenovac, a Croatian-run concentration camp.
Mirjana perished in Jasenovac in late 1944. She was 23 years old.
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